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Full text of "Methodism in Guilford County, 1776-1965"

Kennerly, Charles Odell 

Methodism in Guilford County 



"'il/fS^ 



DUKE 
UNIVERSITY 




DIVINITY SCHOOL 
LIBRARY 



METHODISM 

IN 

Guilford County 

1776-1965 




By 

CHARLES ODELL KENNERLY 

A 

MINISTER 

IN 

THE WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA CONFERENCE 

OF 

THE METHODIST CHURCH 

1967 



METHODISM 

IN 

GUILFORD COUNTY 

1776-1965 



1 




%/~U.au; 



By 



CHARLES ODELL KENNERLY 

A 

MINISTER 

IN 

THE WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA CONFERENCE 

OF 

THE METHODIST CHURCH 



1967 



CONTENTS 

1776-1884 5 

The Annual Conferences 9 

The Quarterly Conferences 9 

The Class Meetings 10 

The Period of the Revival 10 

The Sunday Schools 12 

Pleasant Garden Classical School 13 

1890-1965 14 

Pleasant Garden Circuit 16 

Pleasant Garden Station 17 

Early Conditions in the County 18 

Pleasant Garden 19 

Bishop Asbury Visits Pleasant Garden 24 

Pleasant Garden Parsonages 25 

The Circuit-Rider 25 

Chronological Roll 31 

The Carolina Circuit 31 

The New Hope Circuit 31 

The Guilford Circuit 31 

The North Carolina Conference 32 

The South Guilford Circuit 32 

The Pleasant Garden Circuit 33 

The Western North Carolina Conference 34 

Pleasant Garden Station 35 

Some Authors Consulted 36 



THE INTRODUCTION 

Some five years ago, I was asked to write a history of Pleasant 
Garden Methodist Church. I assumed that it could be done in a 
short time. But when I got into the church's long history, I found 
that it must be written in relationship to the Guilford Circuit and 
even the Greensboro District. The economic conditions are reflected 
in the financial reports of the churches and circuits. 

In my search for materials, it became necessary to examine many 
Annual Conference Journals and Quarterly Conference Records and 
to read many books on Methodism. 

I am greatly indebted to these young women of the church — 
they are direct descendants of these early church fathers — for their 
assistance in this work: 

To Miss Martha Ross Kirkman who helped prepare the chrono- 
logical roll of ministers and for the sorting of materials in the Duke 
Library. 

To Miss Rosa Neelley who examined old deeds in the Register 
of Deeds' Office and for locating the Daniel Sherwood home-place. 

To Miss Barbara Ross for the research on Bishop Francis Asbury 
and early Methodism. Also, for preparing the Historical Pageant of 
175 years of Methodism, and for the many suggestions and correc- 
tions she made on the manuscript. 

This has been a labor of love. My appreciation of the early 
Church Fathers and the Circuit Riders has deepened my consecra- 
tion and given me faith to proclaim, "J esus is Lord." 

Your servant in Christ, 
C. O. Kennerly 
Pleasant Garden, N. C. 
March 21, 1967 



4 



METHODISM IN GUILFORD COUNTY 
1776 - 1884 

About the middle of the 18th century, settlers began to move into 
Piedmont North Carolina. Most of these settlers were Scotch-Irish 
and Germans from Pennsylvania and Maryland. They came down 
the Wagon Road and settled in the Yadkin River Valley, where they 
established homes and churches of Lutheran, Presbyterian, and 
Quaker faiths. 

Methodism began as a spiritual movement within the Church of 
England in 1729. Its purpose was not to establish a new doctrine 
or a new church, but to seek after and find a new life, and to get 
others to do the same. Methodism began in America in 1766 when 
Philip Embury began preaching in New York and Robert Straw- 
bridge in Maryland. The society of New York appealed to Mr. Wes- 
ley to send them a preacher and at the next Conference in England 
he called for volunteers for America. Richard Broadman and Joseph 
Pilmoor offered themselves for this service and they were accepted 
and sent to America. They landed in Philadelphia on October 24, 
1769, and soon Mr. Pilmoor started south, preaching through Mary- 
land, Virginia, and into North Carolina. "On the 28th of September, 
1772," writes Mr. Pilmoor, "I reached Currituck Courthouse a little 
before noon. I began without delay and declared to churchmen, 
Baptists and Presbyterians, 'He shall baptize you with the Holy 
Spirit and with fire.' God made his Word like a hammer that break- 
eth the rock to pieces. The poor people expressed the utmost grati- 
tude, and Colonel Williams invited me to dine. I gladly accepted 
the offer." The honor of preaching the first Methodist sermon in 
the state belongs to Pilmoor and the honor of being the first layman 
to open his home to the Methodist preacher belongs to Colonel 
Williams. 

Methodism did not officially come into the state until 1776 when 
the Carolina Circuit was set up with Edward Dromgoole, Francis 
Poythress, and Isham Tatum as preachers, This circuit already had 
six hundred and eighty-three members in the societies. Their field of 
labor was unlimited and many think they preached all the way to 
the Blue Ridge and back that year. Many people looked with sus- 
picion on the Methodist preacher after Mr. Wesley urged the colo- 



6 Methodism in 

nies to remain loyal to the Crown, yet the circuit reported nine 
hundred and thirty members in the societies that year. 

In 1778 the North Carolina Circuit was divided into three cir- 
cuits: the Roanoke, Tar River, and New Hope. William Glenden- 
ning, Andrew Yeagan, and Philip Bruce were appointed to the New 
Hope Circuit. This new circuit embraced Guilford County and all 
the territory west to the mountains. 

Methodism was having a period of great growth in the Piedmont 
area, so in 1783 the Guilford Circuit was formed principally from 
the New Hope Circuit with three hundred and fourteen members. 
Samuel Dudley and James Gibbons were the preachers. There were 
no organized Methodist churches at that time, so the preaching was 
in the homes of the society members and at cross-road arbors. The 
next ten years Methodism was busy organizing the members into 
classes with leaders who instructed them in ways of holy living and 
prepared the probationers for church membership. 

In the beginning, Mr. Wesley had no idea of organizing a sep- 
arate church. But circumstances forced this upon him for the Meth- 
odist ministers could not baptize, neither administer the Sacrament 
of the Lord's Supper. The established Church of England in Amer- 
ica refused to administer these sacraments to the Methodist, so 
the members were without these means of grace. A Methodist Con- 
ference was called to meet on December 24, 1784, in Lovely Lane 
Church in Baltimore. There were some sixty ministers present. Mr. 
Wesley sent Francis Asbury to America to represent him and to 
preside over the conference. These ministers organized themselves 
into the Methodist Episcopal Church with two orders in the minis- 
ters, namely, deacon and elder. The preachers present were ordained 
deacon or elder, according to the years served in the ministry. This 
conference is regarded as the most important one in Methodism. 

The first General Conference met in Baltimore November 1, 
1792. There was much discussion over the power of the bishop and 
the method of appointing the preachers. James O'Kelly led the op- 
position and, after much debate, the motion was defeated and the 
episcopacy was saved. The next day Mr. O'Kelly with some of his 
preacher followers left the conference and the church. 

A preacher, previous to this General Conference of 1792, was 
paid $64.00 a year. This conference allowed travel expenses and 
provisions for himself and horses while on the road. Another rule 
change was made allowing the preacher to receive money for per- 
forming a marriage ceremony, but to make no charge. He also was 



Guilford County 



forbidden to receive anything for administering the ordinance of 
baptism or for burying the dead. 

North Carolina Methodism in 1783 numbered six thousand three 
hundred and sixty-three members. There are no Quarterly Confer- 
ence minutes until 1832, where we find this record of one held at 
Muir's Chapel. These nineteen churches made this quarterly finan- 
cial report: 

Greensboro $3.75 Field's 00 

Bethlehem 1.40 New Hope 81& 

Pleasant Garden 1.05 Bethel 00 

Rehobeth 1.371 Mt. Zion 2.12& 

Shilo 00 Gethsemane 1.45 

Prospect 1.30 Fair Field 1.00 

Centre 3.61M Lees Chapel 1.22 

Mt. Pleasant 00 Goshen 2.10 

Fair Grove 3.00 Muirs Chapel 4.00 

Zion 00 

The pastor's salary, bishops, presiding elder, and missions were 
paid out of this quarterly total of $27.14/2. 

In 1883 these churches appear on the Guilford Circuit: Rock- 
ingham Courthouse, Jamestown, Sandy Ridge, Smith's, Carmel, 
Lowe's, and Salem. In 1884 Wentworth, Harmony Grove, Liberty, 
Holt's Chapel, and Black Jack ( later becoming Shady Grove ) . 

Methodism continued its growth in Guilford until the circuit was 
divided in 1861 into the Guilford and the South Guilford Circuits. 
The Guilford Circuit was composed of all the churches in the north- 
ern part of the county and the churches in Rockingham. The South 
Guilford Circuit was composed of the churches in the southern part 
of the county and in Randolph County. Some fourteen years later 
in 1875 they were again divided into three circuits, adding the Pleas- 
ant Garden Circuit. This new circuit was composed of ten churches, 
with six hundred and twenty-five members. It is difficult to know 
which churches were on these different circuits, for they held their 
Quarterly Conference together. The existing records do not show 
individual reports as to number of members or of finances. 

The North Carolina Conference was formed in 1836 from the 
Virginia Conference and included all of North Carolina from the 
coast to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. At this confer- 
ence the Greensboro District was set up principally from the Yadkin 
District and included Guilford, Rockingham, Stokes, Forsyth, David- 
son and Randolph Counties. Taking the centenary year of Method- 
ism ( 1884 ) as an example, we find many interesting items of growth 



8 



Methodism in 



during the forty-eight years of work in this district. Let us remember 
that some of these circuits embraced all the churches and preaching 
places in a county. All of the churches were small i?i membership 
and often situated miles apart. The following is the Annual Confer- 
ence Report for the year 1884: 



Chargs 



Z c« 



Greensboro Sta. 


1 


415 


1200 


3 


349 


L. W. Crawford 


Guilford Ct. 


7 


696 


600 


6 


375 


T. H. Pegram 


East Guilford Ct. 


3 


265 


350 


2 


155 


T. A. Bowles 


Pleasant Garden 


6 


445 


264 


6 


529 


John Tillett— C. W. King 


Franklin Ct. 


7 


282 


274 


4 


170 


R. T. Stephenson 


Randleman Sta. 


2 


309 


700 


2 


320 


R. F. Bumpass 


Randolph Ct. 


11 


742 


526 


10 


400 




Trinity College 


1 


105 


150 


1 


116 


T. F. Heitman 


Thomasville-High 














Point 


2 


301 


480 


2 


239 


S. V. Hoyle 


Davidson Miss. 


2 


95 


00 


4 


140 


D. L. Earnhardt 


Winston Sta. 


2 


424 


1760 


2 


197 


J. T. Bagwell 


Forsyth Ct. 


11 


762 


448 


10 


597 


S. H. Helsebeck 


Stokes Ct. 


10 


692 


00 


8 


450 


f. R. Seroggs 


Snow Creek Miss. 


1 


59 


58 


1 


85 


S. D. Peeler 


Madison Ct. 


6 


427 


600 


6 


300 


R. P. Troy 


Dan River Miss. 


1 


31 


00 


2 


49 




Ruffin Ct. 


4 


455 


625 


4 


215 


N. E. Coltrane 


Reidsville Ct. 


3 


450 


700 


3 


240 


D. R. Bruton 


Kernersville Ct. 


7 


381 


300 


4 


262 


J. C. Thomas— M. T. Hunt 



While Methodism was making this impact upon the life of this 
area, it was being multiplied across the Blue Ridge into Tennessee 
and Kentucky. If there is a secret for this success it is found in these 
words: "The church was growing because men were giving their 
lives upon her altar." 

If a summary is possible for the first one hundred years of Meth- 
odism in the greater Guilford area, it would show many small 
churches organized and preaching places established in most of 
the settlements and at the crossroads. The number of Conference 
preachers had increased with the local preachers; most of these 
preaching places were regularly supplied. These men were faithful 
and many members were enrolled in the churches. The Sunday 
schools had made little progress in teaching children and adults. 
The circuits were large, some having eleven churches and often 



Guilford County 9 

embracing a whole county. This made it very difficult for the preach- 
er to reach them more than a dozen or more times a year. Some of 
these small congregations at the crossroads did not survive, but 
the founding fathers were trying to meet the spiritual needs of 
these people who lived in small, isolated communities and separ- 
ated by long, muddy trails. Only God can write what these early 
itinerant Methodist preachers accomplished. 

The Annual Conferences 

The first Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church 
convened at Green Hill's, near Louisburg, on April 20, 1785. The 
area represented Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. 
About twenty preachers were present and guests of Green Hill and 
they slept on pallets placed upon the floor. (Some two years later, 
when the Conference again met there, the preachers were enter- 
tained in the homes of friends in the community. ) These men had 
come from hard places and had endured many hardships, but they 
reported a gain of nine hundred ninety-nine members for the year. 
Bishop Asbury presided over this Conference and among the many 
important things accomplished was the grouping of the circuits into 
districts with an elder in charge. The name "Presiding Elder" came 
four years later. James O'Kelly was appointed to the Yadkin District, 
but it was not until 1788 that we find the charges composing it. They 
were: Roanoke, Caswell, New Hope, Guilford, Salisbury, Yadkin, 
and Halifax. This Yadkin District embraced as much territory as 
the present North Carolina Conference. The Annual Conference has 
undergone many changes since that first one, but basically, it is the 
annual agthering of ministers and representatives from the local 
charges and who transact the business of the Conference and to 
receive the appointments of the preachers for another year. 

The Quarterly Conferences 

The Quarterly Conference is an important part of Methodism. 
In early Methodism, it was primarily a religious gathering for the 
circuit or circuits of an area and it was well attended by both 
preachers and laymen. Only a few questions were asked and answer- 
ed. The conference always lasted two days — Saturday and Sunday. 
The preachers were entertained in the homes of the host church and 
they often preached in them on Saturday night. All the traveling 
preachers were present and often preached one after another during 
the Saturday session. The love feast was an important part of this 



10 Methodism in 

conference. Then on Sunday the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper 
was observed and administered by the Presiding Elder. Many who 
attended these services traveled twenty or thirty miles to attend 
these conferences. Often many conversions were reported from these 
services and it was a time of spiritual refreshing for all. 

The Class Meetings 

The class meeting was another important part of early Method- 
ism. The people lived in widely-scattered areas and the preachers 
were few in number, which made oversight of its members very 
difficult or next to impossible. So the members and new converts 
were organized into classes under a class leader who stood in the 
place of the preacher. These classes met every week in the homes 
of the members as a group for worship and study, then they separ- 
ated into small groups of men and women where the leader ques- 
tioned them about their spiritual life and growth. Each member was 
asked to contribute a pennv a week to the general fund of the society 
which some thought was asking too much. The class meeting became 
the germ of thousands of Methodist churches. In addition to this, 
these classes became training classes for the new converts in mem- 
bership. Each one was on a six-months probation and they must 
have the recommendation of the class leader before they could be 
received into full membership. 

The Period of the Revival 

The revival in North Carolina began near the close of the 18th 
century. Bishop Asbury was the leader of this movement. Around 
him was a ministry composed mostly of young men of apostolic 
spirit and character. They had only one passion — to win souls for 
Christ. The doctrines preached were thoroughly Methodistic: free 
salvation, full salvation, present salvation; justification by faith; re- 
generation of the heart by the Holy Spirit; knowledge of sins for- 
given and the witness of the Holy Spirit that the believer is born of 
God. The revival was not confined to the Methodist church, but it 
was supported by Presbyterians and some Baptists. 

Out of the revival came the camp meetings. The first one was 
organized and directed by Dr. David Caldwell, pastor of Buffalo 
Presbyterian Church near Greensboro and it was held at Old Union 
Methodist Church, located a few miles south of the Guilford line in 
Randolph County in the summer of 1801. It is assumed that Old 



Guilford County 11 

Union was a part of the Guilford Circuit and thus the first camp 
meeting was held within its boundaries. Men under conviction were 
often struck down and greatly exercised in mind and body. These 
physical exercises were known as "the jerks" and no doubt but that 
they were the result of a psychological emotional experience. When 
Enoch George was pastor of the Guilford Circuit in 1792 he be- 
came very much disgusted with the "jerks" and preached against 
such emotional outbursts. 

Most of these meetings were held out of doors and under brush 
arbors at the crossroads and in the churches where they were es- 
tablished. Families came in wagons and camped during this period, 
and later individuals built cabins or tents around the camp area. 
We know there were camp grounds at Centre, Rehobeth, Muir's 
Chapel, and Pleasant Garden. In 1854 Bethlehem erected a camp 
arbor which was used each year for its August revival. We know 
from records that Pleasant Garden in 1840 had a camp ground and 
six tents and that it was used until after the turn of the century. 

We have some reference to this camp meeting at Pleasant Gar- 
den in the Reverend W. C. Gammon's autobiography. He says that 
he "was born in Guilford County on January 19, 1828, and that he 
was converted at a camp meeting at Pleasant Garden in the year 
1849." Then the Guilford Circuit meeting on April 2, 1871, unani- 
mously selected Pleasant Garden as the place to hold the annual 
district camp meeting. There is no record of this meeting being held 
or what the attendance and results were, or who were the camp 
meeting preachers. 

Whatever our thoughts are today about these meetings, nothing 
could have taken their place when Methodism was striving to min- 
ister to the spiritual and social needs of people who lived in that 
period. During this time thousands were brought into church mem- 
bership. So like many institutions and movements, the camp meet- 
ing served well its generation and then ceased to exist, but its influ- 
ence is felt even today in church circles. 

These services were not always of a solemn nature. Amusing 
things often happened at these meetings. The Reverend Jesse Lee 
tells about a sermon preached by a Baptist minister at a camp meet- 
ing near here. He writes, "He preached a 'powerful sermon' on the 
subject of immersion, using an outline something like this: 'When 
you have old dirty clothes, there is only one way to get them clean. 
You take them down to the spring, fill a tub with water, put the 
clothes down into the water, take a paddle of lye soap and rub it in 



12 Methodism in 

well; take them out and rub them on a washboard until they are 
clean; rinse all the dirt out and then hang them on a line where the 
air dries them and the sun whitens them.' " Then, turning to the 
Methodist preacher who was seated on the platform, he said, "Now, 
what do you have to say against that?" The Methodist preacher re- 
plied, "Nothing. But, then I observed that after you washed the 
clothes clean and the air dried them and the sun whitened them, 
that you have to sprinkle them before you can iron them." 

The Sunday Schools 

To Bishop Asbury belongs the honor of organizing the first Sun- 
day school in America. This school was organized in 1786 in Han- 
over County, Virginia. It did not make much progress for some 
years. In the Conference of 1790 this objective was adopted: "Let 
persons be appointed to teach (gratis) all who will attend and 
have capacity to learn; from six in the morning to ten, and from 
two in the afternoon til six. The chief objective of the Sunday school 
was to give children an education and to keep them from mischief." 
The demands upon the teachers were so great that it soon was given 
up as an institution of learning. Some years later it was reorganized 
as an instrument of the church in evangelism to train the pupils for 
church membership and in religious living. 

We have no record of any Sunday school in the county until 
1835. To the question, What is the number of Sabbath schools and 
what are their conditions? In answer to this question, Joshua Lea, 
preacher, made this report to the third Quarterly Conference on 
October 10, 1835: "There are nine schools, three hundred one 
pupils, seventy-five teachers, seven superintendents, eight libraries 
with five hundred seventy-eight volumes, three Bible classes, and 
thirty pupils converted." In 1845, Joseph Tucker reported: "There 
have been no schools in operation this quarter because of the in- 
clemency of the weather." Twenty years later, W. B. Richardson, 
pastor, reported in 1865: "Not much doing on account of northern 
soldiers roaming the country." G. C. Bynum in 1871 reported: "Pleas- 
ant Garden school pupils memorized eight hundred and twelve 
verses of Scirpture and Mt. Pleasant twenty-one hundred verses!" 
Then in September, "The Sabbath schools have been closed except 
Mt Pleasant." 

The Greensboro District in 1884 had seventy-nine schools, five 
hundred and fifty-one officers and teachers, and four thousand and 
sixty-nine scholars. The only station in this six-county district with 



Guilford County 13 

eighty-seven churches was Greensboro with two schools, thirty- 
seven officers and teachers, and three hundred scholars. 

How small was the number of scholars in the six schools on the 
Pleasant Garden Circuit with only two hundred scholars, or an aver- 
age of some forty-five pupils to a school! Yet, these small schools in 
the county were meeting in the corners of a one-room church, train- 
ing their youth for Christian service and living. So many of our 
leaders in both church and state have come out of small churches. 

Plesant Garden Classical School 

The Methodist people were always interested in education and 
it is not clear whether Pleasant Garden Methodist Church estab- 
lished and controlled a school known as the Pleasant Garden Classi- 
cal School, or cooperated with the community in establishing this 
school. We do know that a report was made to the 4th Quarterly 
Conference held at Rehobeth in 1869 in which T. S. Whittington, 
principal of the school, was presented to the conference and his 
report and plans for the school were regarded as encouraging. 
Again, on February 7, 1874, Professor R. P. Troy, principal, made 
his report and it was adopted. There is in existence a grade report 
of Miss Annie Hardin for the quarter ending May 21, 1885, which 
lists among the subjects taught as Latin, Greek, English, French, and 
German. 

This school grew in number of pupils until it expanded into a 
boarding school with a dormitory for girls and one for boys. This 
school united with the state system in 1905 and became one of the 
first accredited high schools in the state. The church continues its 
support of the public school and its many activities. 



14 



Methodism in 



METHODISM IN GUILFORD COUNTY 

1890 - 1965 

The Western North Carolina Conference was formed in 1890 
from the North Carolina and Holston Conferences and it embraces 
all of the western part of the state. The first Annual Conference was 
held at Concord on November 26, 1890. Bishop Charles B. Galloway 
presided and C. G. Montgomery was elected secretary. The Confer- 
ence was divided into nine districts: Asheville, Charlotte, Franklin, 
Mt. Airy, Salisbury, Statesville, Shelby, Greensboro, and Winston. 
The Greensboro District was reduced from six counties to three, 
namely: Guilford, Rockingham, and Randolph with four hundred 
twenty-eight members and a salary of $1,350.00 for the Presiding 
Elder. 

The lay delegates to this conference from the Greensboro Dis- 
trict were J. S. Ragsdale, C. H. Ireland, P. H. Williams, and J. E. 
Walker. As we examine this first report about the number of church- 
es to a charge, membership, salary, and Sunday schools we are 
amazed at the growth in all these areas in the seventy-five years of 
church service. This first report is given here for comparisons to 
later years and records. 





1 


o> 








u 
a 




Chargj 


a 


I 


< 






"3 

•g 
CA 


M 

o 




o 


o 


3 

"3 


S3 


i-S 


6 


A 




55 


z 


en 


P* 


£<£ 


Z 


fe 


Greensboro : 
















West Market 


1 


428 


1350 


1350 


2 


374 


S. H. Hilliard 


Centenary 


1 


242 


600 


627 


1 


249 


S. Poole 


Greensboro Ct. 


4 


474 


500 


500 


4 


421 


J. A. Bowles 


Reidsville Sta. 


1 


351 


1000 


1000 


3 


245 


W. R. Ware 


Ruffin Ct. 


5 


611 


700 


642 


5 


222 


N. R. Richardson 


Summerfield Ct. 


8 


470 


500 


350 


7 


350 


J. F. Craven 


Jamestown Ct. 


6 


369 


450 


377 


4 


386 


J. T. Crocker 


Pleasant Garden Ct 


. 6 


447 


500 


400 


7 


438 


M. J. Hunt 


High Point Sta. 


1 


255 


700 


700 


1 


150 


J. W. Jones 


Randleman Sta. 


2 


314 


650 


650 


2 


192 


G. W. Callahan 


Asheboro Ct. 


9 


664 


700 


672 


8 


717 


Parker Holmes 


Randolph Ct. 


6 


243 


800 


810 


9 


677 


W. M. Bagley 


Uwharrie Ct. 


5 


460 


500 


350 


5 


200 


R. S. Abernethy 


Totals 


63 


6212 






65 


4802 





Guilford County 15 

It is impossible to make individual church comparisons for this 
period. Only West Market and Centenary records are available for 
the others were lost in the charge reports of large circuits. 

This area of Piedmont North Carolina became a strong Meth- 
odist center and produced many early church leaders. In 1965 we 
find that the Greensboro District of 1884 has grown into the Greens- 
boro, High Point, Thomasville, and Winston-Salem Districts. The 
following chart shows comparison and growth for this area: 









"3 

o 










■8 










CO 




District 


1 

a 

6 


S 

4) 

2 


§ g 


.1 

si 




6 


d 


=■§ 


> S 




fc 


fc 


Zio 


« 


Greensboro 


. . . 60 


28,918 


23,838 


12,734 


High Point 


. . . . 47 


20,836 


18,608 


10,451 


Thomasville 


. . . . 49 


20,958 


20,015 


11,936 


Winston-Salem 


. . . . 58 


25,309 


23,447 


12,577 


Total 


.. . . 214 


60,021 


85,908 


47,698 



Draw a circle with a radius of twenty-five miles around Greens- 
boro and it will include most of these districts and some area from 
the North Carolina Conference. On any average Sunday morning 
you will have some 48,000 adults, young people and children in 
Sunday school. Also, you will have a comparable number of people 
worshipping in the church services. 

This period of seventy-five years has been one of expansion in 
every area of life. The Methodist church, with Greensboro as a 
center, has exerted her influence upon the total life of the county. 
Based on the past growth, by the year 2,000, or thirty-five years 
away, the church should double its membership in Guilford County. 
This increase will call for many new churches, if Methodism is to 
meet her responsibilities. 

In the early 1900's, the great "industrial expansion" began in this 
piedmont area. Plants to manufacture cotton, furniture, and tobacco 
began locating iu the villages and towns. Many people seeking a bet- 
ter way of life — often sharecroppers — began to find employment in 
industry and moved to town or to the industrial village. These peo- 
ple were church people from the rural communities and they found 
their place in the existing churches or in new ones established near 



16 Methodism in 

their work or homes. In a few years these small or new churches 
became stations with a well trained ministry. 

This period brought a great change in the American way of life. 
The horse and buggy way of travel gave way to trains, autos, and 
jet planes. The muddy one-lane road soon became a four-lane "ce- 
ment ribbon" crossing and criss-crossing the state with good sec- 
ondary roads feeding into them. Electricity transformed not only 
industry but most of the homes. Power machines lifted the load 
from the worker's back in industry and eased the work of the farmer. 
The small cottage or house, furnished with few necessities of life 
are now replaced with large, adequate houses furnished with elec- 
trical appliances and comfortable furniture. All of these small one- 
room churches are now replaced with large brick or stone buildings 
with adequate facilities for worship, education, and fellowship needs 
of both church and community. These large circuits with ten church- 
es and with preaching once or twice a month now are strong stations 
with a full-time preacher and a trained lay leadership. 

The schisms which split the church in 1792 and then again in 
1844 were brought together in 1939 when the Methodist Protestant 
Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church, South, were united into The Methodist Church. The 
union of these churches eliminated much overlapping of charges 
and administration. 

Pleasant Garden Circuit 
1875 - 1945 

In 1875 the Pleasant Garden Circuit was formed from the Guil- 
ford Circuit and embraced all the churches in south Guilford and 
upper Randolph Counties. There were ten churches and a member- 
ship of six hundred and twenty-five. The Reverend M. L. Wood 
was Presiding Elder and Z. Rush preacher in charge. The salary for 
that year was $600.00 and he received $375.00. 

Again, it is difficult to know which churches were on this circuit, 
for the Quarterly Conferences were often jointly held and the rec- 
ords do not designate to which circuit a church belonged. We do 
know that in 1879 there were nine churches with five hundred and 
eighty-three members and that W. H. Bobbitt was Elder and P. L. 
Groome, preacher. The churches were: Mt. Pleasant, Holt's Chapel, 
Rehobeth, Pleasant Garden, Bethlehem, Shady Grove, Bethany, 
Randolph, and Cumberland Chapel. The salary that year was 



Guilford County 17 

3400.00 with $374.00 being paid. At some time during the past forty- 
four years these churches appear in the minutes : Liberty, Franklin- 
ville, Old Union, Ramseur, and Randleman. 

In 1919, or forty-four years later, the circuit was reduced to 
four churches: Rehobeth, Bethany, Bethlehem, and Pleasant Garden. 
These four churches had a membership of seven hundred and forty- 
three. The salary that year: assessed $1,250.00 and paid $1,430.00. 
Rev. J. H. Barnhardt, Presiding Elder and Rev. A. G. Loftin, preach- 
er. 

Again, in 1923 the Pleasant Garden Circuit was reduced to three 
churches: Bethlehem, Rehobeth, and Pleasant Garden. There were 
seven hundred and thirty-seven members and a salary of $1,500.00. 
Rev. W. F. Womble, Presiding Elder, and Rev. John W. Hoyle, Jr., 
preacher. These churches continued to grow for the next twenty 
years until there was a membership of one thousand six hundred 
sixty-four and a salary of $2,700.00. 

Pleasant Garden Station 
1946 - 1965 

Pleasant Garden Church became a station in 1946, or one hun- 
dred and sixty years after the society was organized into a church. 
Rev. W. A. Lambeth, Presiding Elder, and Rev. R. A. Hunter, 
preacher. Today the church has a membership of some six hundred 
and a salary of $7,200.00. 

It is interesting to look back over past years and see the growth 
of a church. These items were gleaned from Quarterly Conference 
records. We find these annual reports in regard to salary as reported 
for Pleasant Garden: In 1843— $14,268; 1844— $12.13; 1865— $25.85; 
1871— $25.00; 1872— $77.55; 1874— $180.00. We have this full report 
for the circuit for the year 1882. There were ten churches with five 
hundred and forty-three members. Rev. W. H. Bobbitt, Presiding 
Elder, and Rev. R. M. Hoyle, preacher. Pleasant Garden's part of 
the annual budget as given in the report: Salary assessed, $120.00 
and paid $120.37; Bishop, $2.50; Presiding Elder, $3.55. The statis- 
tical report showed there were one hundred and four white mem- 
bers, no Negro members. Three infants were baptized and two Sun- 
day schools were organized. The stewards appointed were: C. W. 
Tucker, S. W. Taylor, R. A. Fentress, and F. McClintock. In 1846 
we find that Alexander Hanner was appointed Sunday school super- 
intendent at Pleasant Garden, and that he also was appointed stew- 
ard to fill the vacancy occasioned by the removal of Jesse Schelly. 



18 Methodism in 

Early Conditions in the County 

The conditions in Guilford County were most severe in the late 
1700's and the early 1800's. These early settlers were a hardy people 
of strong convictions but with little education. Books were almost 
unknown except the Bible and Bunyan's Pilgrim Progress. Many 
learned to read by using these as textbooks. 

Many of the early houses were one-room log houses built of 
native pine or oak logs. These logs were hewn on two sides and 
notched in the corners to hold them together. The cooking was done 
at an open fire which seldom went out either in summer or winter. 
There were few necessities and no luxuries. The beds were often 
built upon four stakes driven into the earthen floor and supporting 
either a corn-shuck or straw tick mattress. 

The land was cultivated with primitive tools drawn either by a 
mule or team. Their patches of wheat and corn were harvested by 
hand. The wheat and corn were ground or pounded into flour or 
meal. Wheat bread was a rarity and was enjoyed only on special 
occasions or on Sunday. 

The clothes for men, women, and children were made in their 
homes from cotton, wool, and flax. The cotton seed had to be picked 
from the lint by hand which was a slow and tedious job. The task 
assigned to each member after supper was to pick his shoe full of 
cotton seed before bed time. Then the lint was carded, spun and 
woven, by hand, into cloth from which their garments were made. 
The annual visit of the cobbler was an important event in the home. 
He took the tanned hides of cattle which the farmer had prepared 
and made shoes for each member of the family. 

The period of the Revolutionary War was very distressing for 
the county. The quota of soldiers had to be met on each call. The 
Battle of Guilford Courthouse was fought on March 15, 1781, and 
the soldiers of both armies foraged off the land. They took what 
little food they could find and left the people hungry and impov- 
erished. 

The Methodist societies fared hard during this period. John 
Wesley wrote and distributed a pamphlet in the Colonies urging 
them to remain loyal to the Crown. Some of the English preachers 
returned home, others remained, and all were suspected. They tried 
to hold services where possible. The minds of the people were not 
on religion but on the war. Their conversations were about the men 
from the community who were at the front and how the war was 
progressing. 



Guilford County 19 

The economy of the period was terrible. Men worked for ten 
cents a day or for one penny an hour. Money was almost non-exist- 
ent. Neighbors helped each other to raise houses and barns and to 
clear new grounds. These occasions became happy social occasions 
as the host prepared food and drinks for the group, and most always 
when night came there was a square dance to close the day's work. 
The nearest store to this area was Fayetteville. The men of the com- 
munity formed caravans of wagons and took cured meat and grain, 
cotton, tobacco and corn and bartered them for salt, soda, salt fish, 
pins and needles and green coffee. These were times for trying men, 
but strong people always overcome their adversities. These people 
laid new foundations and worked for a better way of life. The 
churches helped keep alive the faith in God and from this a new 
economy arose, which has blessed this area. 

Pleasant Garden 

Pleasant Garden was an early settlement at the cross-roads of 
the Wagon Road and the Salem-Fayetteville Road. Travelers came 
from the north almost daily bringing news about events and national 
movements. The Scotch-Irish and German settlers brought news 
about a new religious movement that was growing fast in Pennsyl- 
vania and Maryland. Some of these traveling preachers came as 
earlv as 1776 and they were known as the "followers of Wesley." 
They preached at cross-roads, in courthouses and in the homes of 
people who invited them to hold services. Their message was Christ- 
centered and personal and it created much talk and even criticism 
and opposition because they departed from the customs of estab- 
lished churches. Some of these who settled in Pleasant Garden had 
come in contact with Bishop Francis Asbury in Maryland before 
coming to this community. These itinerant preachers organized the 
new converts and followers into class meetings under the lay class 
leader who was appointed by the preacher in charge. 

Some of the early family histories indicate that George Kirkman 
and some members of his family joined with their neighbors, the 
Sullivans, Sherwoods, and others in organizing a Methodist Epis- 
copal Church in 1786. 

On April 20, 1792, William Shannon sold one acre of land to the 
Methodist Episcopal Church for twenty shillings (less than $5.00). 
Th^ trustees were William Weatherly, John Coe, Daniel Sherwood, 
George Kirkman, and Daniel Sullivan. The pastors that year were: 
James Nelly, William Bellamy, and Enoch George. The first named 



20 Methodism in 

preacher was preacher in charge, the second was assistant, usually 
a deacon, and the last man was considered a learner. 

According to old records, "the first church was built in 1792 and 
was a frame house 24 x 30 feet. As to the graveyard, it was probably 
commenced about the year 1800. The church stood about the middle 
of the present cemetery. A frame building at that time was any log 
building erected by hewn 8 x 8-inch upright beams mortised unto a 
sill and plate and fastened with wooden pegs. This made several 
panels in the wall which were filled with hewn logs wedged and 
pinned into this frame. The windows were closed by board shutters 
that could be opened and closed. There was no plan for heating 
these early buildings and in the winter months they were cold. 
Wooden benches made by hewing flat the top side of logs stood 
upon the earth floor. This church served these first members for 
some fifty years. It would be most interesting to know of their sac- 
rifices and consecrated living, but their deeds do follow them and 
we are blessed today because they lived. 

The second church, according to Duke University Library, was 
built in 1840. "The house was 30 x 40 feet with a 10-foot pitch. It 
was weatherboarded, ceiled, seated, with pulpit and stove." This 
church stood in what is now called the new cemetery which is near 
the gymnasium. This description of the building is most interesting. 
Few buildings at that time were weatherboarded and sealed for 
this was all hand-work. A stove for heating was a luxury and to have 
pews with backs made this one of the finest churches in Methodism. 
This church was typical of that generation: two front doors with two 
aisles and the men seated on the right and the women on the left. 
These churches all had balconies for the Negro members who sat in 
them and largely looked on the congregation seated below. This 
church building served the congregation during the trying days of 
the Civil War and the period of destruction which followed. Many 
families were torn by separation, fathers and brothers in the war, 
and a concern for these families who were in the battle area. There 
is no record of the building committee or of the trustees. The small 
Sunday school classes met in the corners of the church and out of 
these classes have come many of our leaders. 

The church purchased more land as it looked toward the future 
expansion. On August 7, 1845, a deed was made to the trustees from 
Watts A. Winbourne and Jonny Sloan for a small tract of land for 
the consideration of $1.00. The trustees were Levin Kirkman, Eben 



Guilford County 21 

W. Hendrick, Fisher B. Layton, Wm. Young, Abdolem Hanner, 
Hiram Yates, and John Percham. 

Again on August 29, 1888, W. D. Ross and wife Elizabeth deed- 
ed to the church one acre of land valued at $50.00. This is where 
the present church now stands. The trustees were W. N. Young, S. 
D. Elliott, W. G. Tucker, Alfonso Elliott, James M. Ward, and J. K. 
Tucker. 

Then on November 10, 1906, D. G. Neelley deeded a tract of 
land to the church for the consideration of $1.00. The trustees were 
Henry T. Kirkman, R. F. Fentress, W. A. Elliott, O. F. Ross, John 
R. Tucker, W. C. Tucker, and J. W. Weatherly. 

The third church building was begun in 1888 and completed in 
1890. It was located across the road from the other property. This 
was a one-room brick building 40 x 85 feet and was among the first 
brick Methodist churches in the country and was considered one of 
the best in the conference. The building committee was composed 
of Madison Tucker, William Tucker, and Horace Wolfe. The Rev- 
erend Moses J. Hunt was the pastor during the construction. The 
building was dedicated in November 1891. It was in the traditional 
style of that period, two front doors in the front, two aisles which 
separated the men and women in the congregation, with the pulpit 
built into the front as the congregation faced the minister. These 
brick were hand-made and the brick kilns were nearby. As usual 
much of the material and labor were donated by the members and 
friends of the church. This building was incorporated into a later 
program of expansion, but the main body of the sanctuary remains 
today. 

The membership of the church was steadily increasing and the 
need for graded classes had become pressing, so again it became 
necessary to enlarge the church plant. The congregation in 1921 
appointed a building committee under the leadership of Rev. A. G. 
Loftin composed of C. F. Weatherly, W. B. Hunt, C. F. Neelley, H. 
(Herb) Vickrey, Charles W. Kirkman, C. F. Kirkman, and H. L. 
Coble to study the needs of the church and Sunday school and to 
submit plans for the enlargement of the church plant. Plans were 
submitted to the congregation and they were adopted and work 
soon began on the building. The church was rebuilt with brick with 
a new front entrance and two towers, the sanctuary capacity was 
doubled by the addition of rooms on either side, a new educational 
building was constructed in the rear, which provided thirteen class- 
rooms, and a dining room and kitchen. This expansion program was 



22 Methodism in 

made possible by gifts of money, work, and materials. It was dedi- 
cated on June 21, 1931. Again Pleasant Garden Church took its 
place among the progressive rural churches of the conference and 
was among the first to provide classrooms for graded study. 

The need for more classrooms again became acute and the 
church in 1950 began to make plans for a separate educational build- 
ing. Plans were drawn and approved by the congregation and a 
financial policy of "pay-as-you-go" was adopted. A building com- 
mittee was elected on July 15, 1952: Charles Riley, Chairman; Don 
W. Vaughan, Robert Ayers, Lynn Hunt, and R. D. Teachey. Mrs. 
John Kirkman was elected treasurer of the building fund. This build- 
ing of brick and concrete was begun in 1952 under the leadership 
of Rev. R. P. Waugh and completed and dedicated in 1955 under 
the pastorate of Rev. C. O. Kennerly. This building provides a large 
fellowship hall with kitchen, a pastor's study, and nursery on the 
main floor; the second floor provides space for the youth of the 
church. This building meets not only the needs of the church, but 
povides space for the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, women's meetings, 
Lions Club and many community and social functions. The building 
has an estimated value of $28,000.00. 

Again, after some forty years, the church began a study of the 
present and future needs of the church and to begin to make plans 
for accomplishing it. A Finance Committee composed of Mrs. Max 
Tucker, Chairman; C. O. Kennerly, Mrs. C. W. Quate, Carl Beroth, 
Wayne Davis, Frank Plunkett, and Verne Walton was elected. Miss 
Dorothy Lednum was elected treasurer. This committee, with the 
approval of the Official Board, secured the Reverend R. P. Gibbs, 
Conference Field Service and Finance, to organize and direct a fi- 
nancial campaign for the church. After thorough preparation, the 
campaign for cash and pledges over a three-year period was made 
and some $83,000.00 was secured. The committee thought this was 
a satisfying report. 

A Building Committee composed of Wesley Jones, Chairman; J. 
Leroy Dawson, Charles Riley, James O. Vickrey, Phil Pearce, C. W. 
Hockett, Jr., Starr Layton, Lester Jones, and Leon Watson was elect- 
ed. This committee made preliminary surveys of needs and its re- 
port was adopted by the Official Board. In 1965, Rev. E. H. Lowman 
was appointed pastor, replacing Rev. Paul Bruton. A more detailed 
study of the needs for both sanctuary and education was made under 
the direction of Mr. Vernon E. Lewis, who was employed as archi- 
tect. A master plan was adopted and an estimate of $315,000.00 for 



Guilford County 23 

the completed building was received. Since the plan is so drawn 
that it can be constructed in units, the committee after study rec- 
ommended that the sanctuary and education unit be constructed at 
this time at a cost of some $215,000.00. It is planned for construction 
to begin this summer. 

The church is making plans for observing its 175th anniversary 
this year. A committee composed of Rev. C. O. Kennerly, Chairman; 
Mrs. W. B. Kirkman, Charles J. Hunt, Miss Ruth Weatherly, Miss 
Ethel Neelley, Wayne Davis, Mrs. J. S. Parsons, and Miss Barbara 
Ross, is working on these plans. 

This scheduled program has been approved by the Anniversary 
Committee and the Official Board: 

The pageant will be presented at the Community Center in 
September. 

The Annual Homecoming on August 6th with Bishop Earl Hunt, 
Jr. preaching the sermon. 



24 Methodism in 

BISHOP ASBURY VISITS PLEASANT GARDEN 

Of the many distinguished people who have visited in Pleasant 
Garden, no one is more honored that the Bishop Asbury. He is re- 
garded as the Father of Methodism in America. His influence is felt 
all the way from New York to Georgia. For forty-five years he lived 
Lhe life of an itinerant preacher without a home, and spending only 
a few days at any place with friends. 

He was on a journey from the east toward the west in 1798. We 
learn from his Journal that he was at Shallotte on November 10. He 
writes, "The weather was so cold and the house so open, that I was 
chilled through my whole system." He continued his journey and 
on November 15, 1798, arrived in Pleasant Garden. He records, "We 
rode from the upper branches of Rocky River, twenty miles, to 
Pleasant Garden. When I came to the meeting house, I had little 
strength of mind or body. We lodged at Daniel Sherwood's. My 
aged brethren and sisters from Maryland and Delaware rejoiced to 
see me, a poor, feeble man. They had seen me in better times." The 
next day he continued his journey toward South Carolina. 

Again, some sixteen months later while he was on a trip from 
the south toward the north, he was snowbound in Anson County by 
snow closing the road across the Uwharrie Mountains. He changed 
his course and came north around the mountains, crossing the Yad- 
kin River higher up, and on Thursday, February 27, 1800, came to 
Pleasant Garden. He writes, "We came to Daniel Sherwood's in 
Guilford County. It rained and snowed on Friday. I gave an exhorta- 
tion, and ordained two deacons. We got our horses shod and then 
rode on toward the coast." 

Some people live in history because of some deed done or by an 
association with some great person. Daniel Sherwood lives in history 
because of his association with Methodism and Bishop Asbury. We 
do know that he was a charter member of the church and was one 
of the first trustees. According to county records, he owned some 
300 acres of land about Pleasant Garden Church which, according 
to line boundaries, was the late W. D. Hardin land and later known 
as the Miss Annie Hardin place. It is now owned by Boren Brick 
Company. The original house stood about where the entrance to 
the brick yard turns off the Hunt Road. We hope to erect a historic 
marker there to Bishop Asbury in memory of his visits to Pleasant 
Garden. 



Guilford County 25 



PLEASANT GARDEN'S PARSONAGES 

The first parsonage was on one acre of land and stood where the 
present Baptist church was built. The land was given by Col. D. G. 
Neelley to the trustees of the Pleasant Garden Circuit in 1877. The 
circuit trustees were: J. M. Ward, President; R. M. Gretter, C. M. 
Tucker, Treasurer; W. G. Tucker, George W. Ross, W. A. Short, 
and A. D. Ross. According to a record in Duke Library, "The house 
was a four-room cottage with stable and shelters, a well of water, 
all under good fence. It was partly furnished and valued at $750.00. 
This house was built in 1877 and was first occupied by Rev. J. R. 
Scroggs." This parsonage served the circuit for forty-eight years 
and was then sold in 1915 for division. 

The second parsonage was on N. Main Street and was purchased 
in 1915. It was a two-story frame building with eight rooms and 
fairly well furnished. This parsonage and its contents were totally 
destroyed by fire on November 10, 1940. 

After the fire, the church bought a house on North Main Street 
for a parsonage. It was a brick house with adequate rooms for the 
preacher and his family. 

In 1944 the church traded this property to C. Gray for a lot and 
house adjoining the church property on the north, to be used for the 
parsonage. This was a large two-story frame building with nine 
rooms which was used for a parsonage until 1961. 

The present eight-room brick parsonage was built in 1961 south 
of the church on Church Street. It is well adapted for the use of the 
minister and his family and it is furnished with good furniture. The 
estimated value of the building and contents is $30,000.00. The 
Building Committee was James O. Vickrey, Chairman; Carl T. 
Beroth, Lester Jones, Charles G. Riley, and Mrs. Max Tucker. 

THE CIRCUIT-RIDER 

It was my first purpose to write a thumb-nail sketch of all these 
early itinerant preachers, but then I found that about half of them 
were only a name and served only one year on the Guilford Circuit; 
some others served for only two years and then quit; but some gave 
all of their life to this ministry. So I decided to take only a few and 
from them try to get a picture of the Circuit Rider. 

Let our mind go back for a hundred and seventy-five years and 
see the familiar figure of the Methodist preacher as he makes the 



26 Methodism in 

monthly rounds of his large circuit. Look at the grave, earnest 
countenance, the straight-breasted coat, oil-skin covering for the 
hat, the leather saddlebags containing all his earthly belongings, 
and the steady gait of the horse, which was the mark of the itiner- 
ant preacher. He preached with an oratory that was peculiar to 
the Wesleyan movement. They had a message from God, and real- 
ized the "woe" that was pronounced upon them if they did not de- 
liver it. Hence they preached with a great earnestness and with a 
zeal that was new to the people of America. 

These Circuit Riders had little time for reading or meditation 
except what they did on horseback, as they traveled circuits and 
stayed in crowded cabins. So they read the Bible and the books 
available to them as they traveled the roads. Most of these men were 
well educated for that period, having studied under private teach- 
ers or ministers. They were acquainted not only with the classics 
but the sciences of that generation. 

Bishop Asbury's Journal reveals more about the toils, hardships, 
and difficulties endured by the sturdy Circuit Rider than any other 
record. In speaking about his Journal, he makes this comment and 
prophecy: "I have well considered my Journal; it is inelegant, yet 
it conveys much information of the state of religion and the coun- 
try. I make no doubt the Methodist are, and will be, a numerous 
and wealthy people, and their preachers who follow us will not 
know our struggles." 

Their Trials and Tribulations 

The preachers frequently suffered through want of clothes. James 
Jenkins records, "While preaching in the Cape Fear section, the 
homespun coat, which my mother gave me, wore out so much that 
I lost one sleeve from the elbow down; but rather than lose time 
to go and obtain a new one, I went on round the circuit sleeveless 
in one arm, until a brother exchanged with me, giving me the best 
of the bargain." 

These Circuit Riders were often forced to "subsist solely on cu- 
cumbers or a piece of cold bread, without the luxury of milk or cof- 
fee." In many parts of the state where they were entertained, the 
common diet was fried bacon and cornbread. The houses were rude, 
one-room log cabins with earthen floors. The beds upon which 
Bishop Asbury and his journeymen often slept were constructed of 
"clapboards" laid on poles supported by rude forks driven into the 
ground. 



Guilford County 27 

It is rather unusual that a church one hundred seventy-five years 
old never produced a minister. In the early 1800's she produced a 
Methodist minister's wife, Mary (Polly) Hendrix. She was married 
to the Reverend Ebenezer W. Ward and she lived until 1893, being 
over ninety-three years old. She has left many interesting stories 
about preacher life in those days. She tells about attending an An- 
nual Conference and being asked to remove a gold pin from her 
dress before entering as the early church believed in applying liter- 
ally the rule against "putting on gold and costly apparel." Mr. Ward 
was appointed to the Pleasant Garden Circuit in 1828. While making 
the first round with his wife, they came to a fork in the road and 
while debtaing which fork to take, they heard a rooster crow in the 
distance. He remarked to his wife that, "Where there is a rooster you 
will find people." Taking that direction, they soon came to a house 
and found a glad welcome. Mr. Ward was noted for his hard preach- 
ing against the sins of his day. He insisted that the members of the 
Methodist church keep the rule of "doing no harm; doing all the 
good you can; and attending upon the means of grace." These two 
faithful servants are buried in the Pleasant Garden Cemetery. 

The Reverend Enoch George who was on the Guilford Circuit 
in 1792, the year the church was built, tells of his many experiences 
while on the Lincoln Circuit in 1790 and 1791. The charge was de- 
scribed as all the territory west of the Catawba River, thus it was 
almost boundless. He writes of that period, that he "was a beardless 
youth assigned to this vast area which was no easy place. He had 
been sent to a people confirmed in the principles of Calvinism, 
the very hardest cases in the whole catalog of sinners!" He was far 
away from home and homesick, he had no money and his clothes 
were worn out. He had to preach for nothing for no one ever thought 
about giving him anything. He had become discouraged and 
thought of quitting. Then he received a letter from Bishop Asbury 
saying, "It is good for him and others to bear the yoke in their 
youth; that itinerant labors must be hard if properly performed; 
that it is better to become inured to poverty and pain, hunger and 
cold in the days of youth, than when he is old and gray-headed." 
This advice was well received and it gave him a new courage to 
continue on this rough circuit and then on to a useful ministry in 
the midst of hard rides and poor fares. 

One of the most colorful preachers of the early 1800's was Jesse 
Lee. He was born in Virginia in 1758, and early embraced Method- 
ism under the ministry of William Glendenning. His pastor appoint- 



28 Methodism in 

ed him class leader while a very young man. He was drafted into 
the militia in 1780 but after a few days he was transferred to the 
baggage and supplies department as a wagon-driver. After receiving 
his discharge from the army at the close of the war, he committed 
himself and his life to the work of the itinerant ministry. He was 
preacher on the Guilford Circuit for the year 1824. 

While serving churches in the Yadkin River Valley, he had sev- 
eral experiences. After traveling all day, he came late in the evening 
to a house and asked if he could tarry with him that night. To which 
the man of the house replied, "If you choose to get down, I will not 
turn thee away." He found that this Quaker was not lacking in hos- 
pitality and though his speech was unusual, he soon found rest for 
his weary body. 

His library, itinerant like himself, embraced a Bible, hymn book, 
and a Discipline. In common with the itinerants, he wore a straight- 
breasted coat, and a white cravat without collar; his face was 
smooth-shaven, and his hat had an ample_brim; and he traveled on 
horseback. While serving in this area of the Yadkin, he picked up a 
little coloquial Dutch (German) and when his scholarship was test- 
ed by the parsons and schoolmasters, who were full of Greek and 
Latin, he addressed them in an unknown tongue, thus paying them 
off in their coin. 

He was a person of magnificent presence and above the ordinary 
size, and he had the manners of a Christian gentleman. He could 
sing the Methodist hymns in such a style that left little use for a 
church bell to call his congregation together for worship. 

Extemporaneous preaching, like everything that pertained to 
the Methodist, was misunderstood. It was represented as preaching 
without preparation. It pleased the people but the novelty was a 
stumbling-block to the clergy. He records this story of an estab- 
lished clergyman who granted him permission to preach in his 
church on the condition that he select the text and present it to him 
after he had entered the pulpit. A great crowd was present to see the 
discomfort of the newcomer. The text selected was Numbers 22:21, 
"And Balaam rose up in the morning and saddled his ass." Knowing 
the biblical background, the exposition was of course biblical. But 
the application was unexpected, especially when he represented the 
minister as Balaam who was saddling his people with many galling 
practices and demands. After this, his skill as an extemporaneous 
preacher was established. 



Guilford County 29 

In 1800 Bishop Asbury chose Jesse Lee as his assistant and they 
traveled together from Savannah to St. Mary's, a ride of about four 
hundred miles. At the General Conference in 1800 when the vote to 
elect a bishop was counted, he lost by four votes to Richard What- 
coat. 

We find him on the Guilford Circuit in 1824, a man of sixty-six 
years old. He was the only preacher on the circuit that year, which 
included Guilford and parts of Rockingham and Randolph Counties. 
His hand helped guide the young struggling church by laying foun- 
dations which have made her great. His name soon disappears from 
the list of active ministers and even his grave is unknown today. 

Bishop Francis Asbury was not only a leader in pioneer life but 
was foremost in braving hardship, toil, and peril. Once, while cross- 
ing the Alleghanv Mountains, writes, "We came to an old forsaken 
habitation. Our horses grazed about while we broiled our meat. 
Midnight brought us up at Jones' after riding some fifty miles. The 
old man, our host, was kind enough to wake us up at four o'clock in 
the morning. We journeyed on lonely wilds, where no food might 
be found, except what grew in the woods or was carried by us." 

On other occasions, "I have slept in the woods without necessary 
food or raiment. I have waded swamps and led my horse for miles, 
where I took colds which brought on disease." Again, "I had nothing 
to subsist upon but roots, young grapevines, and sweet cane, and 
such like produce of the woods." On another occasion, "I accident- 
ally came upon a bear eating a deer, and drew near in hopes of 
getting some, but he growled and looked angry, so I left and quickly 
passed on." Often, "At night when I lay down to rest, I never slept, 
but dreamed of eating." Again he writes, "We have ridden three 
hundred miles in about nine days, and our horse's backs are bruised 
with their loads." Then the heroic Asbury cries out and says. "I 
want more faith, patience, and resignation to do the will of God in 
all things." 

The whole church was saddened with the death of its leader on 
March 31, 1816, in Virginia. Dr. Bangs estimated that Bishop Fran- 
cis Asbury dur - mg during the forty-five years of his ministry in 
America, delivered not less than sixteen thousand four hundred 
and twenty-five (16,425) sermons, besides lectures and exhortations; 
that he traveled during this same time about two hundred and sev- 
enty thousand (270,000) miles for the most part on the worst roads 
and much of it on horseback; that he presided over two hundred 
twenty-four (224) Annual Conferences, and ordained more than 



30 Methodism in 

four thousand ministers. He found five hundred Methodists in wide- 
ly-scattered areas when he began his labors; at his death he left a 
flourishing church in all parts of the country with more than two 
hundred and eleven thousand (211,000) communicants served by 
seven hundred traveling and three thousand local preachers. 

From these incidents and experiences we get an image of what 
the Circuit Rider was like in appearance, and his ability to over- 
come physical trials. He was God's Ambassador with an urgent 
message from his King to sinful people who were living in sin, to 
return to Him and live. He regarded this message as so urgent that 
he climbed wild mountains, crossed treacherous swamps, and 
braved snow, cold, and hunger to deliver his message. 

We who live in Pleasant Garden owe a great debt to these men 
who came for one hundred and ninety years preaching their mes- 
sage and establishing a church. Some only labored one year, while 
others more, but each in his own way made his contribution in 
service and dedication to God. 

The author of "The Son of God Goes Forth" catches the spirit 
of the Circuit Rider when we hear Reginal Heber proclaim: 

The Son of God goes forth to war, 

A kingly crown to gain: 
His blood-red banner streams from afar: 

Who follows in His tr>un? 
Who best can drink his cup of woe, 

Triumphant over pain, 
Who patient bears his cross below, 

He follows in His train. 

God grant me strength to follow in their train. 



Guilford County 31 

THE CHRONOLOGICAL ROLL 
THE CAROLINA CIRCUIT 

Year Presiding Elder Minister 

1776 Francis Poythress, Edward Dromgoole, 

Isham Tatum 

THE NORTH CAROLINA CIRCUIT 

1777 John King, John Dickens, Lee Roy Cole, 

Edward Pride 

THE NEW HOPE CIRCUIT 

1778 William Glendenning, Andrew Yeagan, 

Philip Rruce 

1779 James O'Kelly, Philip Adams 

1780 Prancis Poythress, John Major 

1781 Philip Bruce 

1782 James White 

THE GUILFORD CIRCUIT 

1783 Samuel Dudley, James Gibbons 

1784 Thomas Humphries, Thomas Anderson 

1785 James O'Kelly John Smith, Stephen Johnson, Thomas 

Humphries 

1786 James O'Kelly John Baldwin 

1787 Francis Poythress John Bardwell, Jeremiah Minter 

1788 John Tunnell Jeremiah Abel, James Conner 

1789 Edward Morrison Isaac Lowe, Benjamin Carter 

1790 Thomas Anderson Lemuel Moore, George McKenney 

1791 Isaac Lowe Jonathan Bird, Ezekiel Humphrey 

1792 Isaac Lowe James Nelly, William Bellamy, Enoch 

George 

1793 Isaac Lowe John Pace, Absalom Kinsey 

1794 Isaac Lowe John Bonner, Benjamin Denton, Philip 

Sands 

1795 James Meacham Daniel Deane, William Wilkinson 

1796 Josiah Asken John Jones 

1797 Henry Hill William Burke, William Hill, Roger 

Hancock 

1798 Lawrence Mansfield Samuel S. Steward, Cornelius Hill 

1799 James Rogers Roger Wilkinson, George M'Kinney 

1800 Francis Poythress William Atwood, Jesse Cole 

1801 James P. Eller Josiah Philips 



32 Methodism in 

1802 James Douthet John Moore 

1803 Philip Bruce Thomas Douglas, John C. Bellew 

1804 Alexander M'Caine William Hubbard, George Dillard 

1805 Thomas Mann John Cox, Nathan Weedon 

1806 John Baxter John Gibbons, Richard Owen 

1807 Thomas Douglas William Barnes, Charles Roundtree 

1808 Thomas Douglas Edmund Henley, Thomas J. Crockwell 

1809 Samuel Garrard Charles Roundtree, John Humphries 

1810 Samuel Garrard Joel Arrington 

1811 Samuel Garrard Edward Cannon, Erastmus Stimson 

1812 William Jean Echelburt Drake 

1813 William Jean Joel Arrington, John Doyle 

1814 Edward Cannon Joel Arrington, Cyrus Christian 

1815 Edward Cannon Henry Robertson, Charles Mosely 

1816 Edward Cannon James Hanner, Abram Trail 

1817 Edward Cannon Samuel Garrard, James Smith 

1818 James Patterson John F. Wright, Archibald Robinson 

1819 James Patterson Samuel Hunter 

1820 James Patterson Thomas Howard 

1821 James Patterson James Reid 

1822 Lewis Skidmore James Reid 

1823 Lewis Skidmore Thacker Muire 

1824 Lewis Skidmore Jesse Lee 

1825 Lewis Skidmore Rufus Wiley 

1826 Peter Doub Thomas Mann, Jacob Hitt 

1827 Peter Doub Rufus Wiley, Thomas Mann 

1828 Peter Doub William N. Abington, Eli Ward 

1829 Peter Doub Richard D. Merriweather, Joshua Jolliff 

1830 iMoses Brock Peter Doub 

1831 Moses Brock John H. Watson 

1832 Moses Brock Joshua Bethel 

1833 John Wesley Childs Joshua Bethel 

1834 John Wesley Childs James Morrison 

1835 Abraham Penn Joshua Lea 

THE NORTH CAROLINA CONFERENCE 

1836 Abraham Penn David B. Nicholson 

1837 Moses Brock T. Barnum 

1838 Moses Brock Lindsay D. Bumpass 

1839 Moses Brock Alfred Norman 

1840 Moses Brock William Anderson 



Guilford County 33 

1841 Moses Brock John St. Clare 

1842 Samuel S. Bryant James D. Lumsden 

1843 Samuel S. Bryant James D. Lumsden 

1844 Samuel S. Bryant A. Lea 

1845 Joseph A. Goodman Joseph Tucker 

1846 Joseph A. Goodman William S. Colson 

1847 Peter Doub Joseph B. Martin 

1848 J. A. Cunningham John Tillett 

1849 S. D. Bumpass Joseph B. Martin 

1850 William Carter John Rich 

1851 James Jameson W. W. Nesbit 

1852 W. W. Barringer Charles Phillips 

1853 W. W. Barringer Charles Phillips 

1854 W. E. Barringer Soloman W. Helsebeck, Joseph Bethel 

1855 N. H. D. Wilson J. Bethel 

1856 N. H. D. Wilson John M. Gunn 

1857 N. H. D. Wilson John M. Gunn 

1858 N. H. D. Wilson M. J. Hunt 

1859 Numa Reid J. B. Alford 

1860 Numa Reid R. S. Webb 

1861 Numa Reid R. S. Webb 

THE SOUTH GUILFORD CIRCUIT 

1862 Numa Reid Z. Rush 

1863 Peter Doub Z. Rush 

1864 Peter Doub W. B. Richardson 

1865 Peter Doub W. B. Richardson 

1866 N. H. Reid J. W. Lewis 

1867 N. H. Reid W. B. Richardson 

1868 W. H. Bobbitte Charles H. Phillips 

1869 W. H. Bobbitte Charles H. Phillips, N. H. D. Richardson 

1870 W. Barringer C. W. King 

1871 W. Barringer G. C. Bynum 

1872 W. Barringer Z. Rush 

1873 Charles H. Phillips N. H. D. Wilson 

1874 N. H. D. Wilson Z. Rush 

THE PLEASANT GARDEN CIRCUIT 

1875 N. H. D. Wilson Z. Rush 

1876 M. L. Wood Z. Rush 

1877 M. L. Wood J. R. Scroggs 



34 Methodism in 

L878 M. L. Wood J. R. Scroggs 

L879 W. B. Bobbitt P. L. Groom 

W. B. Bobbitt P. L. Groom 

1.881 W. B. Bobbitt J. B. Carpenter 

L882 W. B. Bobbitt R. M. Hoyle 

L883 R. C. Burton L. L. Johnson 

L884 J. A. Cunningham John Tillett, C. W. King 

L885 J. A. Cunningham John Tillett 

1886 J. A. Cunningham M. M. McFarland 

L887 J. A. Cunningham M. C. Fields 

8 S. D. Adams M. C. Fields 

9 S. D. Adams M. J. Hunt 

THE WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA CONFERENCE 

1890 J. R. Brooks M. J. Hunt 

1891 J. R. Brooks T. W. S. Parker 

1892 J. R. Brooks J. B. Tabor 

1893 J. H. Weaver J. B. Tabor 

1894 P. J. Carraway S. T. Barber 

1895 P. J. Carraway S. T. Barber 

1896 P. J. Carraway S. T. Barber 

1897 P. J. Carraway S. T. Barber 

1898 Frank H. Wood R. F. Bryant, J. F. Craven 

1899 Frank H. Wood R. F. Bryant 

1900 J. R. Seroggs T. W. S. Parker, E. J. Poe 

1901 J. R. Seroggs W. L. LeGette, E. J. Poe 

1902 J. R. Scroggs T. B. Johnson 

1903 J. R. Scroggs T. B. Johnson 

1904 J. R. Scroggs T. B. Johnson, J. T. Stover 

1905 S. B. Turrentine J. T. Stover 

1906 S. B. Turrentine E. G. Kilgore (Supply) 

1907 S. B. Turrentine E. G. Kilgore 

1908 W. R. Ware R. A. Taylor 

1909 W. R. Ware R. A. Taylor 

1910 W. R. Ware J. A. Sharpe 

1911 W. R. Ware J. A. Sharpe 

1912 G. T. Rowe J. A. Sharpe 

1913 G. T. Rowe P. L. Terrell 

1914 J. H. Weaver P. L. Terrell 

1915 J. H. Weaver C. F. Sherrill 

1916 J. H. Weaver C. F. Sherrill 



Guilford County 35 

1917 J. H. Barnhardt C. F. Sherrill 

1918 J. H. Barnhardt C. F. Sherrill 

1919 J. H. Barnhardt A. G. Loftin 

1920 A. W. Plyler A. G. Loftin 

1921 W. F. Womble A. G. Loftin 

1922 W. F. Womble A. G. Loftin 

1923 W. F. Womble J. W. Hoyle, Jr. 

1924 W. F. Womble J. W. Hoyle, Jr. 

1925 J. B. Craven A. R. Bell 

1926 J. B. Craven A. R. Bell 

1927 J. B. Craven J. E. Womack 

1928 J. B. Craven J. T. Ratledge 

1929 W. A. Newell J. T. Ratledge 

1930 W. A. Newell G. W. Williams 

1931 W. A. Newell G. W. Williams 

1932 W. A. Newell R. C. Kirk 

1933 L. D. Thompson R. C. Kirk 

1934 L. D. Thompson R. C. Kirk 

1935 C. C. Weaver R. C. Kirk 

1936 W. W. Peele R. C. Kirk 

1937 W. W. Peele E. E. Snow 

1938 L. B. Hayes E. E. Snow 

1939 L. B. Hayes E. E. Snow 

1940 L. B. Hayes T. F. Higgins 

1941 L. B. Hayes T. F. Higgins 

1942 L. B. Hayes T. F. Higgins 

1943 L. B. Hayes T. F. Higgins 

1944 W. A. Lambeth R. A. Hunter 

1945 W. A. Lambeth R. A. Hunter 

PLEASANT GARDEN STATION 

1946 W. A. Lambeth R. A. Hunter 

1947 W. A. Lambeth R. A. Hunter 

1948 W. A. Lambeth R. A. Hunter 

1949 H. F. Duncan R. P. Waugh 

1950 H. F. Duncan R. P. Waugh 

1951 H. F. Duncan R. P. Waugh 

1952 H. F. Duncan R. P. Waugh 

1953 H. F. Duncan CO. Kennerly 

1954 H. F. Duncan CO. Kennerly 

1955 E. C. Few CO. Kennerly 



36 Methodism in 

1956 E. C. Few CO. Kennedy 

1957 J. Clay Madison P. F. Snider 

1958 J. Clay Madison P. F. Snider 

1959 J. Clay Madison P. A. Bruton 

1960 J. Clay Madison P. A. Bruton 

1961 J. Clay Madison P. A. Bruton 

1962 J. Clay Madison P. A. Bruton 

1963 J. G. Winkler P. A. Bruton 

1964 J. G. Winkler P. A. Bruton 

1965 J. G. Winkler E. H. Lowman 

1966 J. G. Winkler E. H. Lowman 



SOME AUTHORS CONSULTED 

A Short History of the Methodists in the United States — Jesse Lee 
The Journals of the Reverend John Wesley 
Asbury's Journals and Letters — 3 Volumes 
A History of Methodism — Bishop McTyeire 
History of Methodism in North Carolina — Grissom 
Condensed Minutes of Methodism 1776-1835 — 2 Volumes 
Journal of the North Carolina Conference 1836-1889 
Journal of the Western North Carolina Conference 1890-1965 
Quarterly Conference Records for the Guilford Circuit 1832-1884 
Quarterly Conference Records for the Pleasant Garden Circuit 
The Methodist Centennial Year Book — DePuy 
History of North Carolina — Lefler 





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